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Rick Riordan – The Hammer of Thor

June 16, 2017

29. The Hammer of Thor by Rick Riordan (2016)
Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard, Book 2

Read my review of book:
1. The Sword of Summer

Length: 468 pages
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult

Started: 10 June 2017
Finished: 13 June 2017

Where did it come from? The library.
Why do I have it? New Rick Riordan book!

Thor’s hammer has been
stolen, but that’s only part
of a deeper plot.

Summary: Magnus Chase may seem like your average teenager on the surface, but average teenagers don’t have to deal with problems like the end of world. Magnus is an einherji, a warrior who died bravely in battle and was taken by a Valkyrie (his friend, Samirah al-Abbas) to Valhalla, to train to fight the end on the side of the Norse Gods at Ragnarok. Magnus is also the son of the god Frey, the god of summer, fertility, and healing. Magnus has started to settle in, make friends with his hallmates, and become accustomed to the ways of the afterlife (although he’s still perfectly free to return to Midgard – a.k.a. Boston – to get a cup of coffee or some of Sam’s boyfriend’s falafel.) However, on one of these excursions, Magnus is sent to meet a very nervous goat, who informs him that Thor, the Thunder God himself, is missing his… well, his certain item. If word gets to his enemies that Thor is hammer-less, the giants would likely storm Midgard themselves. So Magnus has to somehow find and retrieve the hammer, even though his friends Blitzen and Hearth (a dwarf and an elf, respectively) are nowhere to be found, he’s got an unusual new floormate who he’s not sure he can trust (she did behead him, after all), his sword Jack has a nasty penchant for singing pop songs at inopportune moments, and he’s pretty sure that there’s something more sinister going on than just routine hammer-theft. But can Magnus figure out what it is before he walks right into a trap?

Review: Rick Riordan’s books are just unfailingly fun, and this one was no exception. It follows the basic pattern of most of his other books – heroes on a quest to thwart the bad guys’ plans and/or save the world, encounter adventures along the way involving various gods or other elements of the mythology, heroes learn something about themselves along the way (usually a life lesson for a different character during each of the set-piece adventures), bad guys’ plans turn out to be something other than what the heroes were initially planning for, heroes save the world anyways… at least for now, because there’s still something bad coming on the horizon. This rather predictable pattern could render these books formulaic, but they’re just so darn stinkin’ fun that I don’t care. This book, while it fit the pattern and did feel somewhat episodic, also had the benefit of a stronger central plot line that tied the various adventures together more strongly than is always the case for others of Riordan’s books. The various clues all click together by the end, which I’ll admit that I didn’t see coming any more than our heroes did.

I really enjoy Riordan’s sense of humor, which is good at taking familiar (and some unfamiliar) elements of the Norse mythos and reinterpreting them to fit into our modern world. (Like, OF COURSE Thor has the most epic man-cave ever, and OF COURSE he turns his ever-reincarnating goats into Hot Pockets when he slaughters them.) Riordan’s also got a great imagination, and is really good at writing action sequences that are fast-paced and easy to picture and just over-the-top enough to be funny without losing sights of the stakes involved. I also love that his cast of characters are effortlessly diverse, and that while he doesn’t ignore it (for example, Magnus and Sam get into discussions about how she can maintain her Muslim faith while simultaneously being the daughter of a Norse god, and a Valkyrie to boot), he also doesn’t make a huge Thing about it, or make that diversity the only interesting thing about the character. As another example, there’s a genderfluid character introduced in this book. Riordan explains what that means in a way that’s organic to the character and the situation and without lecturing, and while Magnus is initially a little bit thrown, eventually he’s just like “oh, okay, that’s who she (most of the time) is,” and together they proceed to kick butt. It’s realistic and refreshing at the same time, and in a series where everything about the world is turned up to eleven, it provides a good emotional grounding to have multidimensional and relatable characters. (…and Jack, the enthusiastic singing sword who’s just looking to date an attractive lady weapon. Who doesn’t relate to that?) 4 out of 5 stars.

Recommendation: Start with the first book in the series, of course. But if you’re looking for a lighthearted take on Norse mythology (which, admittedly, is mostly not-that-serious to begin with), this series – like all of Riordan’s books – is a lot of fun.

This Review on LibraryThing | This Book on LibraryThing | This Book on Amazon

Other Reviews: Becky’s Book Reviews, Imaginerding, and more at the Book Blogs Search Engine.
Have you reviewed this book? Leave a comment with the link and I’ll add it in.

First Line: Lesson learned: if you take a Valkyrie out for coffee, you’ll get stuck with the check and a dead body.

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